Increasing forest cover

The Union ministry of environment and forests (MEF) has embarked on a national forestry programme to increase forest cover in the country by 33 per cent. The project, which has a budget of US $32 billion, will be funded by 28 international donor agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The project aims to not only conserve the existing forests, but also enhance the forest cover as envisaged in the National Forest Policy, 1988.

"Afforestation is directly related to food security. More forests mean more rainfall and increased agricultural production,' said Suresh Prabhu, the Union minister for environment and forests. He says that the project will be completely people-oriented. District forest development bodies will be constituted which will carry out the forestry project in various districts. Emphasis will also be on Joint Forest Management (JFM) programmes, involving local people and villagers of a particular area, the minister said.